Although HR departments must adhere to their federal, state, or province labour laws, many HR professionals and hiring managers do consume some types of stereotypes. HR often find themselves buried in unfounded conclusions and deceptive practices that they keep from the outside world: employees and job seekers. In other words, HR and recruiting have some secrets they would never reveal to their people.
Indeed, the world of human resources can sometimes seem like a soap opera. From workplace conflict to length of employment, there are just numerous aspects HR managers are concealing from you. And as a professional, you should probably know or, at least, aware of these secrets. The secrets revealed are not meant to scare you, rather it is meant to help you understand the hustle and bustle of the HR world. If you learn from this secret wisely, you might have a better chance to win the job competition.
Former HR and recruiting executive J.T. O’Donnell disclosed that new employees often try to stay on their best behaviours, but it wears off over time as HR teams are always armed with their 90-day new hire rule.
On her very first job as HR, O’Donnell was told that, “Whatever behaviour you see in someone’s first 90 days on the job, multiply it by 10 and that’s what the employee will be like in a year.” That’s why so many companies now have a “90-day clause” in their hiring contract, enabling them to fire employees without explanation. As employers estimate losing millions of dollars annually on bad hires, the clause lets them cut losses faster. In other words, employers can let you go if they see any behaviour they do not like.
Before hiring, HR will check references. You might think you can control the process by giving names of only people who will provide glowing recommendations, but some HR folks also do “backdoor” reference checks. They tap into their own network of contacts and find someone who worked with you to get an unbiased viewpoint. In particular, this technique is used if it seems like you left your last employer under suspicious circumstances, for example, you say you were laid off, but it sounds like you got fired.
Ever had a recruiter contact you about a job and ask you a bunch of questions about who you worked with at a particular employer? You think the interview went great, but you never hear from the recruiter again. What happened?
The recruiter was candidate phishing, a.k.a getting names of people currently working at the company so they can recruit them out. Sadly, this happens more frequently to the unemployed. O’Donnell said employers prefer to hire people who are currently working.
The HR handbook was designed so you could reference it and stay in compliance, but it does not mean you should run to HR every time a co-worker is not playing by the rules. Pick your battles. If an employee is doing something that could hurt the company badly, you should say something. However, do not knock on your HR door just for small reports. Too many visits to HR about your peers might get you labelled as the one to keep an eye on.
Numerous studies show the longer someone is out on worker’s compensation, the less likely they are to return to work. People get disengaged and depressed when they are out on extended sick leave. They adapt to the lower disability pay rate and often never return to work.
To keep this from happening, HR works with an employee’s doctor and pushes to get the person released to do some kind of work to make them come back to the office. Usually, they are given mind-numbing, boring jobs as a way to make them want to get better faster. Employers do not want you staying at home on the couch feeling sorry for yourself. They want you at your desk.
The reason many companies have a policy against giving references is to avoid any slander lawsuits, especially in situations where the employee did not leave on good terms. These days, companies are required only to provide dates of employment and pay rate. They can refuse to comment on an employee’s performance.
However, if asked whether the employee is eligible for rehire or not, they can legally say “yes” or “no” and not be at risk of being sued. Why is this important? Because if they say “no,” then it tells the potential employer something went wrong. Thus, if you have not explained honestly why you left your last job, it could be seen as suspect and you might not get a job offer.
When HR puts you on a formal performance plan, do not expect to turn things around and become a star employee. What they are really saying is, “Get your resume out there and start looking ASAP.” If you find a job sooner, they will not have to fire you and you do not need to go on unemployment. It is better for both sides because being unemployed makes it harder to get a job, which means you will be unemployed longer.
When HR is told to complete restructuring and cut a percentage of the workforce, they consult with managers to choose who stays. While skills and productivity matter, personality is at the top of the list. Why? Layoffs create a stressful work environment. HR looks for employees who they feel will rally and do their best to stay positive. Those who have a history of being critical of the company and vocal about their frustrations to management are the ones to let go.
Don’t assume that great annual reviews year after year equals job security. Those are just recognition for what you have been paid to do. On any given day, the rules can change and the company can decide they do not want to keep you. Past performance is not an insurance policy. HR is always thinking, “What are you doing for us now that saves or makes us enough money to justify the cost of keeping you?”
While some companies pay for formal background checks and are required to ask for your permission, the rest are (without telling you) doing free internet searches instead. If you have anything in your past that can make you a risky hire, HR will find it online.
Understanding the above can help you think through your own actions when working with HR and recruiting. Being prepared is the key. Also, it does not hurt to seek outside coaching from an expert to ensure you are making smart career moves. Knowing HR’s agenda can help you navigate your interactions with them more effectively.
The old advice for job seekers is to always be yourself. This could be considered terrible advice. Why? HR consultant Laurie Ruettimann said that HR will not accept people who are neurotic and quirky and whatever else. All they care about is your skill and experience.
Thus, if you have quirks, foibles, and idiosyncrasies that will rub the interviewer the wrong way, then they will pass you over the job. Instead, just stick to your skills, experience, and what you can bring to the employer.
Originality and honesty go a long way, even after your interview passed. What’s more, during an interview, HR might be the one who dominates to ask questions because they want to learn something about you. They want to know whether you will work well with others or not. Do you learn quickly or sluggishly? Are you open to new suggestions or ideas? These can be found through your answers.